Time Capsule Letter
I can’t believe how long it’s been since our adventure in Costa Rica – I’m sure by now everyone is seriously missing rice and beans at every meal. We miss you all and hope you guys are doing well back home and sharing fun stories from our trip with friends and family.
We hope you have had time to reflect back on some of the incredible experiences we had in Parismina. Our service definitely did not go unnoticed and we were so lucky to be a part of some magical sea turtle sightings and rescues. Our first day in Parismina was filled with prep for the week ahead and especially with Macko and Jason for our work to protect the turtles.
On our first Night Patrol on the beaches close to Jason’s lodge, we were stuck in the rain, but on every other night patrol, we were extremely lucky to see a turtle. We had an unforgettable moment when we saw the tracks of a turtle being dragged away by poachers. Luckily, our guides were able to track them down and safely drag the green turtle back to safety. It really reminded us all of why we were there patrolling the beach.
We also saw a Hawksbill and Green Turtle laying eggs. Brie checked on the nests the following days and was happy to report our successful camouflaging helped protect the nest against poachers. It’s pretty incredible to think that we helped to save so many eggs in those nests! For all we know, these turtles will hatch and live full lives that extend long past our own. We also picked up trash along the beach and reforested the paths to help keep the Parismina beaches a hospitable environment for the turtles. It is really rewarding to think back on all of the tangible and intangible changes this trip made for the turtles and also in our own lives.
In addition to service, we had a lot of fun in the community and just hanging out at home base. We got to know some of the local children when we visited the school and were able to learn from each other and have a great time through a language barrier. We were all very appreciative to be so welcomed into the community. Genesis and Bianca taught us some popular Latin American dances (hopefully you have already brought these out back home).
We were also welcomed into homes of some women in the community for cooking lessons – still dreaming of those empanadas. We zip lined through the Costa Rican jungle, learned to surf and swam through some wild waves. We learned about each other and ourselves through group activities and discussions and opened up in our mentor groups.
Our group OMG paired so well with our amazing experiences. Deciding as a group it was possible to reduce our plastic intake was so fitting, since we already had been living it for a week. We could continue to think critically about our consumption habits, and avoid individually packaged items. The group came up with so many great ideas, I hope we can keep that green light going! Since our goal didnt really have an end date, I hope we are all reaching out to our support networks and improving the amount of plastic waste we create!
It’s pretty crazy to think back on our first day together and remember how different everyone and everything seemed, and then to see the transformation into a united group. Whether we were. We are so proud of how supportive and open you all are and how much this helped everyone grow. We hope that you have already started to apply all that you learned and started working toward your meaningful goals back home. Thank you for all of your hard work and for creating such a welcoming environment to make lifelong memories and friendships. We miss you all!!
Brie, Cathy, Angie, Jen and the team from Parismina
Friday July 12, 2019
Students trickled in slowly on Arrival day, leaving equal time for getting to know each other and resting up from a day of travel. For those who arrived through the afternoon, lunch was on offer from a family owned restaurant across the street from the hotel. where they enjoyed typical Costa Rican fare (rice,beans,choice of meat, veggies,salad and fried plantains!) After naps, games and more arrivals, students stretched their legs with a walk to dinner at Tortillería, a local fusion restaurant. With full bellies and new friends, students got a quick orientation from Mentors Jen, Angelina and Cathy. The last arrivals enjoyed their meals in the hotel, while discussing the following day’s journey to home base and big ziplining adventure!
Saturday July 13, 2019
The next morning brought the whole group together for the first time. Over breakfast, students acquainted themselves and prepared their day packs for the first big adventure. Ziplining didn’t disappoint, as students spent their midday soaring over the rainforest canopy. Complete with tapir sighting and hearty lunch of rice, beans, pasta, salad and fruit juice, everyone had plenty to chat about as the van departed for the Green Gold Eco lodge, where the students will call home for the next week!
After a stop at the local market Maxi Palí for some snacks and any last minute provisions the final leg of the journey took them past expansive banana plantations owned by Chiquita, Dole & Del Monte. Director Brie prompted students to consider working conditions, pesticide and herbicide runoff and deforestation as discussion of the term ‘banana republic’ became something more tangible than just a fast fashion outlet.
A 15 minute boat ride and a walk through a field lit by fireflies brought students into home base, where dinner of pasta, garlic bread and salad waited. After orientation and safety guidelines, students finally settled into their off-grid jungle home.
Sunday July 14, 2019
Today was day 3 of GLAs sea turtle conservation program. We started our day with our mentor groups which we were assigned to today and did activities to help connect better. Next, we did a farm tour and learned about the plants and animals which inhabit this area. We saw howler monkeys, a sloth and a cayman. We then were trained for our first night of night patrols which we will begin tonight at 8 and will come back at 12. Today has been a very successful day and we have gotten the chance to learn more about each other and the place that we are staying in for the next week.
-written by leaders of the day: Simran, Annabel, Julia and Trinity
Monday July 15, 2019
Charlotte: Today we did the swim test. The water was so warm and beautiful, but it had very strong currents. At first I was a little nervous swimming in the ocean, after i jumped in my nervousness left me. I had so much swimming with all my friends, and learning about the Costa Rican beaches. When we got back to base camp we had a surprise dance lesson. I got to learn Salsa and bachata. The dances at first were a little confusing but my partner was rylee and she had experience before with that. I got to learn about different cultures dancing styles and will bring it home to America.
Rylee: Today we had a swim test and I was not expecting the current to be so strong. I was very hesitant on taking the test and was considering not doing it all but I really wanted to surf. I definitely went out of my comfort zone and pushed my self to go in. I was very proud of my self but ended up getting a bloody nose. Later in the evening we had a dance class and we learned three different styles of dance. I enjoyed all three and as a dancer, it was great to expand my genres. After dinner, we got ready for the night patrol and headed out. It was very tiring to walk for four hours and my feet were in so much pain but it was all worth it. The guided noticed that poachers took a turtle so they tried to go after and ended up finding her and they carried her and she safely made it into the water. We named her hope and it was a very beautiful thing to experience. I will always remember that moment!
Gavin: Today we had a swim test and I was very nervous because I am not a very good swimmer. I was nervous about the part where you have to float for 15 seconds however I got through it. We also had dance which was interesting. I am a very bad dancer and I actually learned a bit. The main event of the day is when we went on the night patrol. It was very long and I got quite tired but it was so worth it to save a turtle that was taken by poachers. I was very happy when the turtle got back into the ocean and I won’t forget it.
Colby: Today we were signed up for leader of the day. We had to make sure everyone was ready for every activity on time. It started out with a beach cleanup. It was pretty long and tiring but after we all got to do our swim test and hop into the water. It was kinda intimidating if I’m being honest. The oceans waves were very choppy and full of that nasty spat water taste that found a way to get inside your eyes, nose, and eyes. The mentors got us to do some simple swimming techniques and everyone passed. After we sat through some talks and played some games. We went on our second night patrol. This time it wasn’t pouring rain and we went for the full 4 hours. We were toward the end of our patrol when we came across some tracks that the guide said was already poached. We were all feeling down until one of the other guides came to ya and told us to follow him. Thank god we did because we saw the turtle on its back a little ways from the beach. As we all stared in shock and horror the guides started dragging it to the beach.
Then we finally go it to the beach and it started heading into the beach. Then our director gave a very deep and meaningful speech before a moment of silence for the wonder we witnessed and would never forget. I truly believe that hope does exist and we saw proof of that tonight.
Tuesday July 16, 2019
Today we had so much fun! We went to ASTOP (the turtle protection center in Parismina) where they showed us how to hide turtle eggs from poachers. They also taught us how to measure and tag the sea turtles. After, we took a tour of the village of Parismina and saw how they lived and really started to understand their community.
We took a visit at their elementary school to finish off the tour and played games with the children. Playing with them made us and them feel so happy and surprisingly the language barrier wasn’t a huge difficulty. When we got back to Home Base, we did a mentor activity and shared our “Story of Self”, hearing about everyone’s lives really put things in perspective and helped us realize that everyone has stuff they have gone through or are going through.
We spent some time before dinner at the beach relaxing and taking pictures with our new friends. After dinner, we wrote down one meaningful goal and really thought about something we could change in our lives and how we can get there. It was an impactful way to end the night.
Kayli Barr, Abby Heckler and Bekah Soreff Jones
Wednesday July 17, 2019
We started the day off around 6:30 for breakfast. It was a struggle to get out of Home Base on time, but we managed to get out at 7. We got on the bus after a short boat ride and took a long bus ride to the surfing beach. Along the way, we saw a lot of pretty houses and scenery. We arrived after a 3 hour bus ride and we were all pumped to go surfing! We took turns so that some of us went surfing while the others went swimming.
It was so much fun to try something new and everyone managed to stand up on the board! After surfing, we went to a reggae bar just across the street. We had some good Costa Rican food and juice. Unfortunately, we had to leave the beautiful beach and hop on the bus for another 3 hour bus ride back. Nearing the end of the bus ride, we stopped in town to pick up some boxes of pizza and soda. We ate dinner at Home Base after a long and fun-filled day. We learned that even if you fall off your surfboard, you can always get back up and try again!
Julia, Claudia, Kendra, Iranii
Hi GLA Families! Today was a very community based day. We started the day off traveling by boat into the town of Parismina where we met with locals. Two of the locals welcomed us into their home and instructed a cooking class in which we made empanadas. We made the dough from scratch and grated fresh cheese to fill our delicious treats. After this, we met in the ASTOP volunteer center and ate burgers and chips for lunch. Once we filled up, we walked to a local smoothie shop and treated ourselves to fresh, homemade smoothies. We had many choices of smoothie consisting of pineapple, mango, blackberry, and papaya.
As soon as we finished our refreshing drinks, we headed over to the local artisan fair. This is where we met many familiar locals and saw their beautiful handmade jewelry and souvenirs. Many of us bought items, got our hair braided or wrapped, or got henna temporary tattoos. This gave us students the opportunity to give back to the community in which welcomed us so warmly. All of us greatly appreciated knowing where our money was going and how it would beneficially impact their lives. As night fell, we went on our third night patrol to protect the endangered turtles from poachers. We hope to make a positive difference in Parismina.
– Nicole Karns, Sinead Doogan, Samantha Rebein, Demi Hatzigiannis
Friday July 19, 2019
We woke up to our usual 8:00 breakfast of toast with fruit and eggs. Today we headed out a little after breakfast to do a boat tour with Jason, our local director. On the boat tour we saw white faced monkeys, kapuchin monkeys, a sloth, a crocodile, and much more! Jason allowed us to take a small stop and look at a posion dart frog which he had found. Most of the students took this time on the boat tour to relax and take in the sights of areas we havent visited before.
After the boat tour we had lunch and did a game of heads up that was tied into the theme of this trip. Since we had an hour of activity time, we played another game called “dinner party”. This game involved different mentor groups to have certain greetings when talking to other groups. The goal of the game was to show interaction between different cultures in the real world.
Later we had free time then headed out to plant some trees near the beach. The trees we had planted were really important since they are common types of monkey and sloth food. Unfortunately while planting the trees, many of the kids had gotten bitten by red ants and horse flies :(. After this we had dinner and prepared for our last night patrol.
About 45 minutes into our 4-hour patrol, one group found a green sea turtle nesting close to the vegetation on the beach. The sea turtle hadn’t nested in the first location, so the group followed it to its new nest just a few meters away from the first. As time passed on, the green sea turtle layed about 115 eggs, which had been the most layed eggs we had seen on this session. Around 12:00 we made our way back to home base to prepare for our long day of travel expected before tomorrow!
-Olivia, Natalia, Mallory, and Kalyn